Candy Corn…Gummies?


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That’s right.  My first post after almost two months and all I’ve got to show you is my newest Bulk Barn Halloween candy discovery.

Yes…Bulk Barn already has Halloween candy!

I’m in heaven.

So yes, this is a shout out to my blend Omawarison’s blog Blurt.  Oma is very particular about his candy corn.  But one thing to note is that these are like the Twinkies of candy corn.  The nibs are never broken off, which means they are never overripe…and always in season.

Highly recommend this sugary goodness.  Chewy and taste exactly like traditional candy corn.

Perfect for this diabetic.

Rogue Bagel


Since moving, I have never felt more interested in domestic activities like cleaning and baking.  It might be having a new, fresh apartment with a great big open kitchen – or it could be the cost of prepared items up here, baked goods especially – but I’ve been wanting to try all kinds of new recipes.  This past week, I was perusing a lovely cookbook entitled Canada’s Best Bread Machine Making Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt.  In it, I came across a section devoted to bagels.  Having never made a bagel in my life, but having eaten probably hundreds of them, I figured that I could perhaps make it through this type of recipe with relatively few injuries.

Now, I don’t profess to be a traditional breadmaker, but I’ll make the heck out of some bread machine recipes.  And so, for the past month or so, I’ve been testing out new bread making recipes like crazy.  I’ve already made some country white bread, some cornbread – which was and still is delicious by the way – and two types of bagels.  Allow me to share my delicious bagel creating experience with you…

First, I usually choose my recipes by what’s in the cupboard.  I’ll go out of my way to make something that requires me to do some shopping if I’m really interested in it, or in a planning mood, but typically when the mood to bake strikes me, I have to find what’s available at the time and go with it.  And so, my first attempt at bagels were…

Mocha Bagels

 In order to create these delicious goodies, you will require the following:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 2 tsp bread machine yeast

Since I don’t drink coffee, and Ian doesn’t use the instant variety, I substituted the water and instant coffee granules for 1 1/4 cups of cold leftover coffee.  This is actually good, since typically breadmaker recipes should not utilize cold ingredients if it can be helped.  However, if you prefer a flavoured type of coffee, such as Irish Cream or French Vanilla, you can substitute that as well.

The breadmaker I use (thanks AC!) requires that the ingredients are placed in the pan in the following order:  liquid, dry, and finally yeast.  Therefore the leftover coffee went in, followed by the sugar, salt, chocolate chips and finally the flour (I used all-purpose).  I created a little depression in the pile of flour and carefully added the yeast, ensuring that it stayed out of the liquid.  If you’re a baker, you know that you don’t want the yeast to touch the liquid until the mixing stage.  If you’re not a baker…well…now you know.  The pan is placed into the bread machine, and the Dough Cycle is selected.  After about an hour and a half, your dough is ready to go…sort of…

Once the dough was ready, I lightly dusted the counter with flour and covered the dough ball with a large bowl.  Becoming dough is hard work.  It needs about ten or fifteen minutes to rest and think about what it’s trying to accomplish.

After its short resting time, I rolled it into a cylinder shape, about 12 inches long.  This will require more practice, since the ends of the cylinder should technically be the same thickness as the centre.  As such, I ended up with some bagels that were smaller than others – but no matter!  I cut the dough into 12 portions.  Then I realized a week later that the recipe actually called for 8 portions.  Oops!

Don't be misled...there are 8 portions here, but 4 bagels were already formed!

Each portion is easily rounded, and I put my thumbs through the centre of the dough to create the bagel shape.  This is also known as the donut shape, but let’s be honest here…donuts are fried bits of deliciousness that are on a level I’m not ready to attempt.

A sad looking bagel...

Once all the bagels are formed, they again feel the need to think about life and what they are about to become.  So I covered them with some dish towels (I recommend clean towels…unless you like other flavours in your bagels), and let them rise in a draft-free, warm place for 30 to 45 minutes.

Hmm...we're going to be bagels soon...just breathe and relax...

After rising, the bagels looked a little like this…

We don't really look that different now...do we?

So while my bagels were considering the meaning of life, I got a pot of water boiling on the stove and added 1 tbsp of sugar to it.  Once risen, each bagel was held under the water for about 20 seconds…one at a time.  I know, I know…cruelty to starch…the horrors!  In any case, the bagels got a wee bit puffy…probably from all that contemplation that led to a torturous bath in boiling water…

Help me! Heeeelp...ugh! Gulp! Gurgle!

Having made sure that my oven was preheated to 400° F, and preparing my baking pans, I baked the bagels for about 15 minutes.  They got a little burnt on the bottom, but then, remember I accidentally overlooked the fact that 8 portions were to be cut, not 12.  Also, my oven seems to bake at a little higher temperature than it should – I think.  So I’m sure 12 bagels could be made, provided you don’t leave the little guys in for so long.  Despite the overdone bottoms, they were still delicious!  In fact, it was even a little tasty because of the burning…you know, like if you char up a nice burger…veggie of course!

The perfect wake up...chocolate and coffee!

The bagels were so good, that we decided we wanted to keep some for a while rather than eat them all up.  The best way to have them ready for when the mood strikes to munch them up is to cut them in half, and then freeze them in a large freezer bag so that they’re ready to be popped into the toaster.  Turns out great every time!

The first attempt at bagels was quite successful, so I decided to give it another go with a different flavour…drum roll…

Cheesy Onion Bagels

The technique for making the bagels is exactly the same, so follow the instructions above if you’re attempting these…you’ll need the following:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup grated old Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp minced dried onion
  • 2 tsp yeast

I used onion powder in place of the minced dried onion, and to give it a little kick, added 1/4 tsp of dry mustard and a Tex Mex mix of cheese that had some jalapeno peppers in it.  What a result!  They turned out fantastically…no burning…probably due to only making 8 this time, and also because Ian jumped ahead of me and raised the baking rack in the oven.  Works like a charm…

Cheesy...oniony...deliciousy...

I’m definitely planning on trying more of the recipes.  Though, now that I know the formula,  I may get a little adventurous and create some of my own recipes as well.  I’ll keep you all informed of my progress…

Incense and Peppermints


At Christmas, indulgence of traditional treats becomes the norm.  There’s always lots of homemade goodies to be had:  cookies, cakes, candies, pies.  Sometimes you need to break a little from tradition when you are helping to put together something for a Christmas dinner.

In preparing for my very first Christmas dinner in Iqaluit, I was told that I could bring something for dessert.  I was excited, since I haven’t been able to do much baking in recent months.  But what to make!  Having just moved into an apartment in the past week, I knew that I had access to all my cookbooks again, so I had lots of options to choose from.  I wanted to do something a little different, and so instead of a pie or cookies, I decided that a cheesecake would be a nice ending to a holiday meal.  I narrowed it down to a peppermint recipe that would have to be modified based upon what I could find in the stores the day before Christmas Eve.

I present to you…Peppermint Cheesecake ~ The Light and Sweet Edition (modified from the Kraft Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese Cheesecakes book.

The first challenge of this recipe is that some of the items called for would probably not be found in the local grocery stores – particularly so close to Christmas.  Things not normally stocked would probably have been snatched up by other local bakers, and baking items were quickly running out.  Luckily, I managed to find most of what I needed, and was able to wing it for the rest.  The second challenge is that I have never made a no-bake cheesecake before – I’m must more proficient at the baked version.  So this was definitely a new experience…but regardless, would hopefully be a tasty outcome.

The Crust

The crust would be created by combining 1 cup of chocolate wafer crumbs and 3 tablespoons of melted margarine in a bowl, and pressing the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan.  Unfortunately for me, the store did not have chocolate wafer crumbs available.  Fortunately for me, I have a rolling pin and loads of plastic baggies.

Creating my own chocolate wafer crumbs

After crushing the chocolate wafers into crumbs, mixing them with the melted margarine, and pressing the mix into the pan, I baked the crust for about 10 minutes at 350° F, and set the pan aside to cool.

Yummy chocolate base

The Cheesecake

To create the cheesecake itself, I required the following ingredients:

  • 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin (about 15 mL or 1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 45-g milk chocolate bars, finely chopped

Despite the fact that my package of Knox Gelatine suggested using 1/2 cup of water to dissolve in, this recipe only called for half that amount.  After allowing the gelatin to soften in the water, I heated it gently over low heat until it dissolved.

This gelatin is NOT dissolved...keep stirring and heating!

While the gelatin was cooling down a smidge, I mixed my cream cheese and sugar.  The unfortunate thing was that as a last-minute shopper, I was unable to find blocks of cream cheese, and could only find the spreadable light cream cheese packages.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that the spreadable nature of the cheese would not turn my dessert into disaster.  Once the room temperature cream cheese and sugar was mixed well, I gradually added the gelatin, milk and peppermint candy (which I previously crushed up using my handy-dandy Magic Bullet – these things are really handy!).  This eventually gave the batter a lovely pink hue.  The batter was then chilled to allow it to thicken slightly.

Mix that batter up well!

In the meantime, I whipped up the cup of whipping cream, and chopped up the chocolate so it was ready to go into the rest of the batter.

Mmmm...chocolate...*drool*

Once the batter had thickened up a bit, it was time to fold in the remaining ingredients.  First the whipping cream…

Folding the whipping cream into the batter allows for a nice marbly effect

Then the chocolate…

Mmmmmm...more chocolate...*drool*

Once everything is mixed up nicely, it’s time to pour the batter on to the crust.  Make sure the batter spreads evenly and tap the pan on the counter if you need to get rid of bumps.

Not too much longer now...

Refrigerate until firm and try not to go to the fridge every hour to drool over the cheesecake – you’ll just end up wasting power from opening the fridge multiple times.

Besides...it's just going to look like this every time you check...

Once the cheesecake has chilled and firmed up (I suspect it took a few hours, though we left it overnight), you can garnish it how you see fit.  I mixed up some vanilla whipped cream (mix 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp vanilla) and crushed up some more peppermint candies.

My decorating skills leave a little to be desired, but I filled one of those many plastic baggies that I have with the whipped cream and used it as a piping bag with minor success.  The end result was quite tasty though – all in all, no-bake cheesecakes aren’t as difficult as I thought.  Just have to remember to keep them in the fridge when they aren’t being cut or eaten!

Merry Christmas!